University of the Pacific and the Brubeck Institute was privileged to receive a visit by “Senator” Eugene Wright, renowned jazz bassist and the last living member of the Classic Dave Brubeck Quartet, from Oct. 16-18. While at Pacific, Eugene toured the Brubeck Collection, observed activities of the Brubeck Institute and the Conservatory of Music, interacted with students and faculty members and participated in interviews.
Members of the public and the University community also had an opportunity to hear from Senator Wright about his career, including his time in the Dave Brubeck Quartet, during a panel discussion “Life and Times of Senator Eugene Wright.” The panel included Brubeck Institute Director Simon Rowe, Pacific professors Patrick Langham and Keith Hatschek, and University Archivist Michael Wurtz. Known as the Senator among fellow musicians, Wright is best known for his work as a member of The Dave Brubeck Quartet, in particular on the group’s most famous album “Time Out” (1959), which included drummer Joe Morello and saxophonist Paul Desmond.
Born in Chicago in 1923, Wright studied cornet in school and taught himself string bass. Prior to playing with Brubeck, Wright performed with the Lonnie Simmons group and led his own band, the Dukes of Swing.
In addition to Brubeck, Wright has played with many jazz stars, including Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae, and dozens of others. Wright worked in television studios and did film soundtrack work as well as played in clubs during the ’70s. He also served as head of the advisory board in the jazz division of the International Society of Bassists and head of the University of Cincinnati’s jazz department.